Till Pizza Do Us Part

Stressed from new responsibilities and relationship woes, Jessica isn’t looking forward to a lonely night in her hotel room. Thankfully, there are plenty of surprises in store. Yet… not all surprises are good surprises.

“Sorry for the inconvenience, Miss, but we’ve upgraded your room for free,” the clerk chirped. “You’ll be in the honeymoon suite on floor seven. Too bad you didn’t bring a date, right?”

“I’m sure my boyfriend will be disappointed I didn’t.” Jessica smiled, hoping the clerk missed the underlying irritation. She waved the bellhop away from her luggage, but gave him a tip anyway. Jessica always packed lightly and disliked anyone else handling her baggage on long business trips.

Destiny had conspired with karma to torment her as the elevator took its sweet time getting to the silent lobby and even longer hauling her up to the seventh floor.

She rolled her suitcase to the room written on the card. The garlic scent of her favorite bedtime snack wafted through the air. She paused, hand on the doorknob, and glanced down the beige-carpeted hallway. Empty. There were no signs of anyone, let alone someone carrying a pizza. I must be imagining things.

The delicious smell of pizza returned in full force once she opened the suite door, yet there was no pizza to be seen on the coffee table before the bed. No pizza on the dresser or the computer desk. Jessica even scrutinized the closets and spa bath as she made her way through the room. Confused and more than a little hungry, she checked the fridge for signs of a complimentary pizza but could find no evidence one existed.

Jessica slammed the refrigerator door.

“If you break that, they’ll make you pay for it.”

Heart skipping a beat, Jessica swung her fist in the direction of the voice. She barely managed to stop before leaving a painful reminder of why he should never sneak up on her.

“Luke, what are you doing here?” Jessica managed once she caught her breath.

“Sorry, hun.” He gave her an adorable and very guilty smile. “I wanted to surprise you. I know things have been shaky since your promotion. Peace offering? I just wanted to see you.” Luke held up a familiar cardboard box. Once he lifted the top, the scent of heaven filled the room yet again. Jessica looked into his blue eyes and saw the truth of his words.

“It’s not the most romantic of meals, but it is my favorite.” Jessica relented with a smile. “Did you really come all this way to spend a night together?”

“You’re worth it. What we have is worth it,” he said, barely above a whisper. “So, slice?”

“Yes, I’m starving thanks to you.” She unceremoniously shoved a piece into her mouth.

“You are the picture of grace.” He set the box on the edge of the bed. “Eat as much as you want, I’m going to splash my face. It was a long drive.”

Jessica kissed his cheek and started unpacking while she ate her pizza. Glancing at the pajamas in her suitcase, Jessica wished she had thought to bring something a little sexier. Luke probably wouldn’t mind, but she felt a little guilty. Her sweet, wonderful boyfriend had driven hours to meet her at a hotel just so they could have some time together. Here I’ll be, in sweatpants and a circus tent.

The shirt by itself could be sexy, or at least she convinced herself it could be. Jessica changed and took another piece of pizza. A sparkle from inside the box got her attention. Pizza wasn’t supposed to sparkle.

She leaned forward and shifted the pieces around. Between two of them lay a modestly-sized diamond ring with two little rubies set on either side.

Heart racing, Jessica quickly shut the box and wondered if her ‘free upgrade’ had really been free at all. Okay, Destiny, Karma, maybe I owe you two an apology. Jessica focused on what she would tell Luke. Was she ready to settle down? Were they? Obviously Luke thought they were. What is taking him so long in the bathroom?

A welcomed knock at the door disrupted her unease. Pulling her robe on, Jessica went to the door and peered through the peephole. A rock formed in her stomach. Amelia stood in her police uniform, shifting from side to side.

Jessica opened the door. “How did you kno–”

“Mom told me you were here.” Amelia hesitated as she entered the suite. “Jessica, I have some news.”

“Now isn’t the best time.” Jessica wondered what could bring Amelia to a hotel room so far from home in the middle of the night. Of course she couldn’t have known Luke was there or what she was interrupting.

“It’s about Luke…” Amelia played with the edge of her hat. “He was driving out here to see you.” Her grip tightened, knuckles turning white. “There was an accident. His car was hit from the driver’s side.”

The rock in her stomach became a boulder. He looked fine. He didn’t mention…

Amelia reached into her jacket. “He had this in his pocket. I’m sure he would have wanted you to have it.” She pulled out a small black box.

Icy claws clutched Jessica’s heart. Opening the black box, she saw the engagement ring. A diamond with two rubies set on either side. They had to be screwing with her.

“Luke?” Jessica raced to the bathroom. An empty bathroom. Desperately, she looked around the room for the box, any box. It was gone. Only the warm smell of pizza lingered in the air.

Ghost Story
Release Date:
April 2015